Mar 26, 2011

Wildlife, pizza, and family economics

Garry had an extra-long work week and the rest of us endured (experienced? enjoyed? Depends on who you ask...) Spring Break. Yesterday at breakfast Tyler asked, in a really whiny voice, when he could go back to school. "Spring Break is kind of boring," he said. Zachary vehemently disagreed, spawning a shouting match that characterized the need for our school-time schedule to return. At this time every year I wonder how on earth we will survive summer break.


We spent most of our Saturday in Denver as a family, marking the first time in a really, really long time (we think maybe since last May!) that we took a family outing to a place other than McDonald's or church or Arizona. Thanks to a fantastic Groupon deal, we checked out The Wildlife Experience in Parker, about 40 minutes north of us. It was a fun little museum.

Our first stop was the in-house theater, where we watched a 45-minute film called "Animalopolis." The kids loved it, and the Littles held in their wiggles almost the whole time. During the closing credits, Gavin yelled, "Everybody dance!" He and Lexi busted out some sweet moves before the lights came up. Then we were off to the races.

We started with the frog exhibit, where we saw dozens of live frogs in their habitats. The poison dart frogs were very popular. Gavin only needed time-out once, which we considered a smashing success. I was very grateful for a second adult. Keeping track of children who immediately scattered and perused the exhibit at four different speeds would have been impossible. Three cheers for a helpful husband!

We also enjoyed the only other section of the museum that didn't require an additional admission fee. Gavin's favorite part was the avalanche simulator. He clapped and cheered everytime the white "snowballs" came crashing down. This section of the museum was perfect for his interest and activity level. The older boys kept busy with things they could read and inspect.

My favorite part of the museum was the outdoor walking tour that went past several metallic animal statues. The fresh air was lovely, even though Lexi insisted on walking at a snail's pace while Gavin ran at warp speed. Good times, good times.

When we finished up our wildlife experience, we drove a little further north and west to the Denver Temple grounds. Our ward is sponsoring tours on the grounds in April while I will be at Women's Conference, so we decided to spend a little time there today while we were close. We posed the kids at the fountain, saw the Christus statue in the visitor's center, and walked around a bit. I'm not sure how much of my sacred, eternal, Easter-themed commentary sunk in, but I tried. I told Gavin that Moroni was a Book of Mormon prophet and he started singing "Book of Mormon Stories" as he skipped along. Judging from the packed parking lot, it was a busy day at the temple.

From there we started scouting for some fast food before we hit the road for home. I couldn't stomach McDonald's, but we couldn't find much else since we aren't familiar with that part of town. The boys universally axed Chick Fil-A. We ended up in the food court at Park Meadows Mall. What a zoo!

We chatted about our favorite things from the morning over our pricey food, and then Zach begged for ice cream. As we boarded the escalator to leave, I explained that one scoop at Ben & Jerry's cost $3.57. I asked him to do the math for a family of six. By the time we reached the bottom he said incredulously, "It would cost $21.42 for six tiny scoops of ice cream? Wow." Yeah. Maybe at Disneyland, but not at the mall.

On the way home, Zach, Gavin, and Lexi napped. Gavin and I napped some more when we got home. Now I'm off to make some brownies, which we are substituting for Ben & Jerry's tonight. We'll send Spring Break off in style -- economic style.
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